Growing Up

As a child all I wanted was to grow up. Milestones were measured by a year or two rather than decades. The first day of school, becoming a teenager, the start of high school, sweet sixteen, drivers licence, graduation; all marked on the calendar and counted down with anticipation.

Wanting to grow up, but not be like the adults I knew was worrisome. They seemed to have lost imagination; their lives appeared stagnant and predictable.  It never occurred to me that responsibility was a serious matter, nor did it cross my mind that they were doing the best they could. I lost sleep over an imaginary line I had to cross; the point of no return when I would become like them.

Outrage crushed my excitement; years of anticipation exposed as a lie. They came clean on Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy; I settled into the reality that the truth about growing older was too much for any child to bear. So I waited. I wondered if it would be merciful; would it come in the night? Would I fall asleep a child and wake up an adult? Would it erase any memory of my former self, or would it suffocate me with lingering flashbacks to a simpler time?

Waiting was more excruciating than the anticipation. Like watching paint dry; day after day and it was still tacky. Rebellion eased the pain. I was smarter than it; I had its number and wasn’t going down without a fight.

Days turned to weeks, months, then years. I woke up one morning and knew something had happened overnight. Laughing out loud was the only response I was capable of. So unexpected was the understanding that I would always be the same. Blinding clarity replaced dread.

For the first time in my adult life I could breath. I forgave everyone in my life for not living up to childhood expectations. Storybook cut-outs were replaced by people I loved. Suddenly they had dimension, their flaws beautiful, their mistakes understandable.

Best of all – I knew I never had to change.

28 thoughts on “Growing Up

  1. You have a wonderful, insightful way of writing about a very human experience that resonates with me and I imagine many others. Enjoying your blog!

  2. I so enjoy how you lope through your writing…like you are used to running at ease in the air, your words leaves on the trees and clouds overhead watching you pass below a little disconcerted at how much ground you cover. It is refreshing!

    Lovely post on becoming “adult “. I remember having the same fear of one day being required to cross over that line and deciding then and there to just erase it. I raised my two girls, mothers themselves now, to understand that culture is an agreed upon reality….not truth in itself…so to make their own way through its flimsy rites of passage. Life would provide all the rites of passage they’d need. They’ve both matured early in their lives ably meeting life’s challenges and surprise me with their ability to jump the hurdles with such grace. Myself…I’m more perceptive than practical I think … still more interested in being on some undefined frontier.

    • Wow – you just blew my mind with your description of my writing style. I don’t consider myself a writer – I hadn’t written a word in 35 years, and still wouldn’t be doing it had my daughter not decided in 2012 that this blog would be my mother’s day present.She set it up without a word then sent me an email directing me to my new blog. I didn’t even know what a blog was yet she assured me it was exactly the proper outlet for thoughts rattling about my head. She was right.

      As for growing up; I didn’t want my children to grow up the way I did.Now 19, 23, and 28 – I couldn’t be happier or prouder of who they became.Unlike the treacherous path I took to the realization I would always be the same (albeit wiser along the way)My husband and I taught them to believe in themselves, convictions, and points of view. To never stop asking questions and above all – not to be afraid of “undefined frontiers”.My beautiful daughter – despite her 28 years, political science degree and endless capacity for debate – still stops to make daisy chain necklaces or peer beneath toadstools on the off chance a fairy might reside in the dew. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

  3. This is the beauty of growing up, learning to accept oneself and not to change and accept everyone including ourselves then comes forgiveness. We definitely not want them to become like us, either. Ponder does make wonders for our brain and one day it clicks.

  4. This is a phenomenal post. Thank you so much for directing me to this. It is incredibly well written, concise and defines exactly how I felt as a child as well. It is only recently, perhaps the last year or two, where the desire to grow up disappeared, and I was happy being the exact age I am now.
    Also thank you for all your kind words on my page, I look forward to reading your posts in the future and staying in touch.. 🙂
    Jessica x x

  5. This was a nice one, me neither lived up to what a well adjusted grown up is expected to be, but I did make peace with that long time ago. So seems I´m not the only one then….that´s good to know. I never left my inner kid, and believe me I´ve bee through some shit´s in life that probably a very very small percentage of the population or western population will ever go through. But still, I have that inner kid and a dysfunctional one at that. Go figure. Nice post.

    • I couldn’t imagine a world populated by “normal” people. I have a theory – damaged people (excluding hopelessly lost psychopaths – I’m talking cluster fucks with the polite sensibility to realize they march outside conventional generalizations) are the cogs that make the world go round. Take away scarred people, and all you have left is robotic drudgery. 🙂 Something to at least ponder….

  6. I remember telling my mother that I was now eleven-teen and a teen-ager. I was eager to grow up and have the freedom of being an adult.
    I turned 50 in September and I feel excited. My kids are both in college and some of my adult responsibilities are diminishing. My kids are great, though I worry about them and the world they live in.
    I have to keep reminding my self that I didn’t just turn 40, it was 50.
    Great post, great conversation here.

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